Music festivals to allow revellers to test illegal drugs


Some of Britain’s biggest music festivals could let revellers test their illegal drugs before they take them.

Reading and Leeds Festivals are aiming to be the first to introduce it with the support of local police forces.

The “radical” scheme was tried out at Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire last year in a testing tent run by The Loop.

But festival organisers hope it will now be rolled out to “between six and 10 festivals this year”.

It comes after several drug-related deaths at festivals in recent years.

Festival-goers will be told what is in the sample they hand over – and that sample is then destroyed.

The Loop founder Fiona Measham said: “It’s really exciting that police are prioritising health and safety over criminal justice at festivals.”

She hopes front-house testing will become commonplace in nightclubs and city centres in the future.

Melvin Benn, who organises Reading and Leeds, Latitude, V Festival, Wireless and a host of other events, says he is working on the plan – but still needs the support of local police forces.

“We talked about it during the summer of last year and the reality is that I took a decision that unless and until the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPPC) supported the principle of it, it was difficult for us to move forward on it.”

He said he had now seen a draft of an agreement that will make it easier for forces across the country to support the initiative.

He ruled out it being introduced at Download next month, but said: “We’ll see it this year for definite … at Leeds I’m pretty certain.

“It’s taken a long time and it won’t be at every festival, but where we think there is a need to do it we will be doing it.”

West Yorkshire Police assistant chief constable Andy Battle, who leads the policing operation for Leeds, said they were “looking at the possibility of supporting the festival’s organisers”.

Lead for drugs at the NPCC, commander Simon Bray, said a “strong understanding of the implications on policing” was required before testing could be endorsed.

“We could not support initiatives that do not comply with the law or that have unintended negative consequences.

“Any proposal would need to be considered by the police force, local authority and health services with a view on its legal, scientific and possible health implications.”


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